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Title:The genesis of French Romanticism: P.-N. Guerin's studio and the public sphere
Author(s):Lambertson, John Paul, III
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Franciscono, Marcel
Department / Program:Art History
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Art
History, European
Art History
Abstract:Scholars have presented innumerable definitions of Romanticism, which are often predicated on the ideologies of individualism and the avant-garde. In contrast, this dissertation argues French Romantic painting was actually defined in the realm of the bourgeois public sphere, where painters, the press, pamphleteers, agents of artistic institutions, and private citizens debated and ultimately determined the very nature of French Romantic painting.
This study rejects the time-honored equation of French Romantic painting with Eugene Delacroix to maintain that the movement materialized through public debate at the Salon of 1824. Here, the public identified a coterie of Romantic painters from P.-N. Guerin's studio, whose art it felt challenged artistic tradition. Romanticism seen through the public sphere underscores that Guerin's students Leon Cogniet, Ary Scheffer, Xavier Sigalon, and Charles-Emile Champmartin were as central to the movement as was Delacroix. This dissertation also elucidates the centrality of the Count Forbin, Director of the Louvre, within public debate on Romanticism, and his patronage of this controversial art contradicts the widely held notion that officialdom rejected the movement.
The contentious debate on Romanticism at the Salons of 1824 and 1827 encouraged the common assumption that Romanticism was an early avant-garde movement. Although publicly accused of challenging the sanctity of history painting and the humanistic mission of art, Romantic painters had thoroughly absorbed tradition during their long academic training and did not seek to rebel against their artistic heritage. Rather, their painting may be understood as an attempt to advance tradition as understood by the French Academy and taught by Guerin. The novelty of their art issued from a desire to convey the moral lessons of history painting to a modern audience absorbed with such popular cultural productions as horror novels and public executions. In such pictures as Champmartin's Massacre of the Janissaries, the Romantics actually advanced tradition by presenting a lesson to the French public on the nature of civilization through the techniques of melodrama. French Romanticism, therefore, transformed the entire character of history painting and was the last major artistic movement to develop from within tradition.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Lambertson, John Paul, III
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512446
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512446

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